Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Dimensions of Interdisciplinarity

The digital landscape has many dimensions cross-disciplinarily such as disciplines of philosophy, neuroscience, physics, psychology, and technology, etc.

Due to the scarcity of knowledge and considerably static industrial age, many people are used to living in familiar territory, operate with an incomplete and relatively small view of the world, get used to applying linear thinking or conventional wisdom to deal with unprecedented complexity and uncertainty. 

Nowadays the digital world becomes so hyper-connected and interdependent, to deal with increasing pace of changes, it’s no surprise that we will see more of a cross disciplinary knowledge sharing and collaboration for solving complex problems or driving transformative changes. Contemporary business leaders and professionals need to become interdisciplinarians, frame bigger thinking boxes, harness a culture of learning, and improve leadership maturity.

Interdisciplinary understanding: Digital leaders and professionals apply multidimensional thinking box to understand business context and sustain diversified viewpoints into holistic perspectives without enlarging cognitive gaps and causing too many side effects, interdisciplinary thinking helps to understand the interdependence of issues, recognize and diagnose the plethora of contextual factors inherent in the circumstances, then intentionally and intuitively adjust their mindset and behaviors in order to exert influence in that context.

In fact, trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety, and reward mediocrity, even create more problems later on. If we all stayed in a box and didn't believe things exist outside of our box, there's no room to broaden our thoughts, expand knowledge, and no progress can be made. Interdisciplinary understanding is enforced when we explore the mental process of improving cognitive intelligence through thoughts, experiences, and senses, involving exploring varieties of meanings/thoughts and abandoning old and establishing new relations, offers a better and more accurate understanding of the overall situation and problems.

Interdisciplinary learning: With the exponential growth of information and shortened knowledge cycle, top seasoned leaders or high professionals become aware when some of the long-acquired knowledge are no longer applicable in certain situations. You have learned to no longer apply that knowledge in those specific cases, and then, relearn the updated knowledge for gaining insight on the changing circumstance. Those well-designed organizations are experimenting, exploring, learning the lessons, and developing the best and next practices to embrace interdisciplinary digital learning and build well rounded skills to overcome professional challenges.

The crucial issue for many organizations though is that they don’t have an integrated approach to manage knowledge holistically. Thus, they haven’t reached the next level of the collective learning stage for creating new knowledge or transforming knowledge to Insight for building invaluable soft assets of the business. In practice, knowledge professionals today need to become more strategic and tactical for gaining new knowledge, integrating learning capacity into their professional competency, mastering cross disciplinary professional skills and building transferable professional capabilities. It's strategic to build a positive environment and culture of learning where people can develop and learn more rapidly and dare to be different. That is the power of the digital workforce.

Interdisciplinary methodology for problem-solving: The hyperconnectivity nature of digital breaks down the functional, geographical, or even organizational border, businesses today become much nonlinear, interconnected and interdependent than ever, have high abilities to understand and handle issues from different angles, and encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. It means to have the better opportunities to connect the dots across the geographical, functional, organizational, industrial, or generational boundaries and integrate multidisciplinary methodology for enabling digital leaders and professionals to look at the wider aspects around problem space and then understands the effect of imposing boundaries within that space, in order to frame the right problem and solve it in a structural way.

Interdisciplinary business ecosystem: The digital business today is not just working within the industry, but also permeating cross industrial boundaries. perceive the business through multidimensional lenses. An ecosystem perspective via an interdisciplinary lens allows the organization to explore digital in all directions and scale up change efforts systematically. At the high level of organizational maturity, digital organizations are more like the living organic systems which spontaneously self-organize and self-renew, generate patterns, structures, business activities, and above all, create novelty over time.

In practice, designing an organic and multidimensional organic, socio-technical business system is more difficult than designing a single-dimensional “mechanistic system." Organizations need to apply lenses of technology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, organizational and communication sciences, etc, understand, adapt to, and purposefully plan and orchestrate a hyperconnected and interdependent digital ecosystem seamlessly.

Interdisciplinary leadership: Due to the exponential growth of information and frequent disruptions, leadership becomes more complex. The maturity of digital leadership depends on a number of factors such as the purpose to lead, multidimensional intelligence, and interdisciplinary knowledge and experience, etc. Great leaders know how to carry themselves in most contexts. It requires fundamentally different mindsets and paradigms such as accepting that leadership influence is attainable, but control is not.

It’s a well-known fact that there is no perfect leader, but the progressive one is on their way to be more effective. Interdisciplinary leaders have a unique insight to bridge the multitude of gaps and demonstrate the ability to learn and become learning agile. When people, especially those in leadership positions leave outdated methodologies and standards to seek additional knowledge and experience, they are stepping outside that box into unfamiliar territory, they are expanded into a much bigger box to improve their leadership intelligence and maturity.

The digital landscape has many dimensions cross-disciplinarily such as disciplines of philosophy, neuroscience, physics, psychology, and technology, etc. The deep problem that reveals is to understand what are the evolutionary pathways implied by the mind switches and how you can leverage different processes to enforce understanding of “VUCA” digital new normal in a comprehensive way. You have to look into an unknown future and attempt to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities, and take a broad range of perspectives on how to run a successful business.


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